NECSE: Nick Bately on Porn

There are countless debates over whether porn is good for you or not, whether it is degrading to women or not, whether it ruins your sex life or not, and you can find a dozen studies to support each side of the argument. However, the most compelling argument people seem to have against it is a pearl-clutching “what about the children” wail; the worry that pornography (according to Wikipedia, the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual gratification) will warp your child’s mind, that they will not be able to understand romance and true sexual enjoyment.

However, there is one thing that discounts many of the concerns; as many, many pornographers will tell you, porn is not “real sex” as we would understand it outside the world of cameras, fluffers and mic booms. That whole “devoid of pubic hair” thing? Anna Arrowsmith, UK porn film director, has said several times that it came from a simple desire for the camera to get a better view of the body parts concerned. James Deen, American porn actor, has likened what he does to a stunt motorcyclist, and that you’re unlikely to do what he does on camera, off camera. When Denice K, Danish porn actor and our third guest speaker at NECSE, spoke she talked of all the work and preparation that would have to go into a single anal scene (all I’m gonna say is a lot more enemas than I ever hope to have), and other actors such as Stoya and Sasha Grey have spoken of this similarly. This is not (for the most part) real sex as we know it.

The reason children are getting the idea that porn is “real sex” is because, in a culture which cuts them off from sex for fear of corrupting them, that’s the only access they get. What they need is for sex and relationships education to tell them more than simply that they’re going to get pregnant and die. They need to be taught, among other things, the difference between manufactured porn and real sex, that not everyone will be willing or ready to do the things that are portrayed in porn, and that that’s OK. They need to be given control of their sexuality, because through our ignorance, wilful or passive, we are depriving them of the knowledge they require.